Canadian Retail Sales: slowing and heavily dependent on Autos

Retail sales fell 1% in cash terms in March on February and by 1.3% in volume terms.  Over the year volume (real) retail sales grew 1.77% and by cash (nominal) 3.17%.

In real terms real volume based retail sales look to be in a declining growth trend (note the smoothed data line) of lower highs and lower lows:

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Across Canada we see weakness in Alberta and relative strength in Ontario over the year in nominal terms:

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But monthly rates of change are slowing considerably from a peak in mid 2015:

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If we just focus on annual data for Canada we see a very strong out of trend upward move

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But this is primarily from motor vehicles and parts sales:

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If we take away motor vehicles and parts and we see a flat retail sales picture (index January 2014 100):

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The disparity between retail sales and retail sales ex motor vehicle and parts sales has not been this big for years:

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But the trend is bigger if we just compare MVP sales to retail sales ex MVP:image

We can see this disparity below: the largest since the early 1990s, itself a rebound from the recently ended recession, so the current strength is significant.image

We can see that motor vehicle and parts sales has contributed close to 60% of retail sales over the last three ears:

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So how does motor vehicle and part sales compare with wage growth?  If we look at cumulative data, in this case annualised rates of change over rolling 5 year periods, we see that motor vehicle and parts sales have well exceeded increases in hourly wage growth:

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